Our knees are constantly being used and continually absorb the stress and strain of sports and high intensity exercise as well as general everyday activities. If you are starting to feel some pain in the knee(s) it can certainly be very uncomfortable whether this be from a sporting injury, accident or just gradual wear and tear.
So what can you do to help support, preserve and protect you knee(s)? Well wearing a knee support can provide some relief from pain and swelling, but its important to know what type of knee support to wear so you don’t end up making things worse in the long term.
Below are the five main types of knee support available alongside what they’re best at, when it should be used, and some extra information to ensure you can choose the best knee support for you.
Types of Knee Braces
Knee sleeves come in different sizes, and you can slip them right over your knee. For example the OPP1022 - Oppo Knee Support provides knee compression, which helps control swelling and pain. Knee Sleeves often work well for mild knee pain, and they help minimize arthritis. Sleeves are comfortable and can fit under clothing.
Wraparound Knee Brace
Wraparound or Dual-Wrap Braces work well for athletes experiencing mild to moderate knee pain, providing more support than sleeves as shown in the above OPP1032 - Oppo Post-Operative Knee Support. These braces are easy to put on and take off, and can be used while training - they don't have the bulk and heaviness of hinged braces.
Hinged Knee Brace
Hinged Knee Braces like the above HG80® Mueller are often used post-surgery, for patients and athletes who need a higher level of protection and support. This type of brace keeps your knee in the proper alignment when it bends, to help heal and avoid further injuries. Your practitioner may recommend a hinged knee brace after surgery, but another type of brace when you've reached a certain point in the healing process. Hinged braces are either rigid or soft, with soft ones providing less support than rigid braces.
A Knee Strap like the above OPP1230 - Oppo Adjustable Knee Stabilizer is a great solution if you suffer from Knee Pain due to Runner's knee or jumper's knee (Patellar Tendonitis), Osgood-Schlatter Disease, or Patella Tracking. It can fit under clothes and is easy to put on and take off. Wearing this type of strap helps prevent patella injuries and minimizes knee pain by putting compression on your Patellar Tendon.
Closed or Open Patella Support
Closed patellar supports cover the entire knee region and compress the area to provide a firm support and protection as shown above with the Allcare Ortho Patella Tracker Knee Brace. The benefit of using this type of knee support is that it can help to control swelling and will address general knee pain. Using a closed patellar support is best if you are suffering from a mild strain or sprain, but can also be used to alleviate symptoms of tendonitis and arthritis. They can also provide useful protection for sports which put a lot of strain on your knees, like weightlifting and rugby.
These can come in two main designs – a stretch bandage sleeve for uniform compression, or with Velcro straps for additional levels of pressure and comfortable fit. You should avoid wearing this type of knee support for too long, as it can cause further pain in the long run due to the pressure applied to the kneecap when you bend your knee past a 45o angle.
So which Brace is best for me?
The right knee brace for you depends on the level of support needed and/or what your practitioner recommends. This decision is based on whether or not you're recovering from surgery, the type of injury you have, and how much movement your knee should be getting.